Lovin' time at Coon Hollow Farm

Lovin' time at Coon Hollow Farm
Our Olde English "Babydoll" Sheep and their lambs

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Well looky there!

Today I looked in on the bees and look what I found! This was actually in "The Beast" hive, doing what bees do this time of year, attempting to swarm! I accidently broke open one of the queen cells, but if you look right under it, there is another. I moved this over to one of my hives that is struggling a bit. They have a terrible queen in there and I have just been waiting to find some queen cells to replace her. So with a little hope that this little girl or one of the others on the other side is strong and kills the older queen and take over this hive and save it. The other cells above also look to be queens along with some drone cells. Fingers crossed!!!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The undaunting task of grooming the angora rabbit

Spring here in Connecticut doesn't seem like it wants to warm up. So grooming the rabbits who live downstairs, not outside, been put off because it has just been too cold. The hard part is they will matt if I put it off too long. These two girls above need loose those wool coats.

"Tawny" was first on the schedule. Her staple length can be as long as 8 inches. She is a broken chocolate Vienna marked English Angora. Her wool is just gorgeous!

Half way through the process and still so much to go. It's not easy trying to groom a moving target! You also have to be careful not to stress them. When my bunnies come in for a hug I know it's time to stop and give them a break.

Her she is somewhat completed. She wasn't have it  so we will revisit her in a few days and clean her up.

Next on to "Fluffer" who is a sweet boy and so much easier. This priceless wool is worth every step of effort!

Friday, May 13, 2016

We call her "The Beast"

When you open a hive, this is what you are hoping to see! Lots of bees! In this picture they are up in the feeder, lots of them!

We already have a queen excluder on because she is everywhere!

Frames like this one make up the hive. Capped brood, larvae stages and lots of eggs everywhere you look. This frame has brood in the center with honey stores capped and ready to go to feed. Many of the frames looked like this one, with end frames consisting of all honey stores. A very healthy hive doing what bees should do!

As I was inspecting the hive I found her, "The Beast"!!! I placed her in a queen marker for her safety as I was going through the hive. Never can be too careful with her majesty! While I had her out I brushed up her mark of white. This mark indicates she is a 2016 queen and makes it all that much easier to find her amongst thousands of bees.

This was a very sweet shot, after I released her they appear to be comforting her, cleaning her and feeding her before she gets back to work!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Wild Edibles, they are everywhere!

When you see this plant in the Spring, you can eat it! When the tops are flowering, the plant is in it's second year and is ready for harvest. This is Garlic Mustard, an invasive plant.

I gather the plants, wash them, dry them...

toss them into a food processor with some olive oil, chopped walnuts, parmesan cheese, a little lemon juice, some garlic salt, salt and pepper. I add a little bit of this and a little bit of that until I get the desired texture and taste.

The finished product. Place it over pasta or just use it as a dip. I find this pesto much better than basil pesto!

Lavender and Rose Water cookies with wild violets are also a favorite this time of year.

I also baked a lamb's quarter quiche for today. I am teaching a class on wild edibles today. We have much to feast on as we explore all the wild edibles that are so abundant this time of year! So get out, explore and eat what Nature has to provide for us!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Suspicious Minds!

Today was shearing day and with our moving about the gang began to grow very suspicious. The stares and the humming was quite funny as they knew we were up to something.

The shearers showed up as we were racing against the rain and got right to work starting on the goats...

then the alpacas.

Haircuts, teeth and hooves were all trimmed in about an hour...

and we put it in the books for another year. Naked animals and some beautiful fiber for some future projects!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Well at least they use it!

Well at least someone is getting some use out of it! We have been a bit busy lately with not a lot of time to just sit back and relax but the chickens do! Relaxed chickens make good eggs!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

We are in eggs up to our ears!

Going back to December, I posted that we were being forced to buy eggs due to our chickens coming to a complete halt in production! Well now we have so many eggs, they are piling up! This is our production just over the weekend! Remember our farm sells our X-large brown eggs for just $3.00 a dozen!!! Stop by and treat yourself to some fresh, delicious tasting eggs!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The greenhouse gets a Spring makeover

The greenhouse needed new shelves so Tim set out to change them with some new shelving and the proper tools!

The plants were momentarily kicked out but the day was wonderful Our Bay trees and some herbs that are not quite ready to go out enjoyed the sun.

Tim worked around the chickens and supplies to remove the old shelves. He put in more support beams to make the shelves more steady and heartier.

New beautiful shelves that aren't sagging! I was using wood wedges to hold the plants level. A new outer wall was also replaced and the greenhouse is like brand new!

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Mister for the ages

I picked this Mister at a local Pet Store after we purchased one for our animals at work that live in tanks. It delivers an amazing long stream or mist. I thought how amazing it would be in our greenhouse!

So it looks like our little Mister may retire. It sure is easier to push a button than to pump a thousand times! As the greenhouse begins to fill with plants this will make watering chores a whole lot easier!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The end of maple season..

Maple season has come to an end, sadly Tim had little time for it this year. He made enough for us for the year but sorry to our customers, we will not have Tim's wonderful syrup for sale this year.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

It worked! The bees made it!

I got up early this morning, ran up to let the chickens out and checked the bees, no one was flying. The temperatures were forecast to be in the 60's. I went up and went up, still no flying, I tapped on the hives and to my wondering ears, I heard buzzing! Patiently I waited until about 11:00 am until I saw the first bee come out for a cleansing flight! I suited up, got some pollen patties ready to put in and went up to take a look!

The hive that we lost in December was loaded with honey so I pulled a few frames to put into the two surviving hives.

 I opened the first hive to see these beautiful girls! It appears putting the shavings in the feeders absorbed a lot of condensation. As I removed it and tipped it a lot of liquid came out. The condensation dripped onto the shavings, the candy board sugar too giving the bees something sweet to pick on.

When the feeder was removed it revealed a big beautiful cluster of sweet healthy girls! I did a quick inspection and found the queen who was unmarked because they had re-queened in late fall. I quickly caught and marked her. The second hive netted a bigger even larger batch of bees! We are looking good for honey bee keeping season!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Oh my Garth!

After a night of rough storms all I could say was "oh my!" when I went down to the barnyard! Garth's beautiful fiber was soaked and full of leaves and debris. We did not shear him last year so he could get a nice long staple grown. Tomorrow is all about getting dried off and brushed out!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

We are back in eggs!

We are back in eggs! The girls are laying at an amazing rate! About 2 dozen a day,we are running out of room to put them! The chickens are singing their egg song in three part harmony daily!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Excuse my absence...but...

I have a baby shower to plan!!! I have been a bit busy getting ready for our new grand child to arrive. Today was a snow day so I got busy beginning the process of making the shower favors. I began making soap with some lye water...

and some measured olive and coconut oils as well as vegetable shortening...

got my temperatures right and combined the two, stired and stired and stired creating Saponification.

added up some lavender and lavender oil...

and there we are! Lavender soap which is baby's mama Sarah's favorite as well as mine! Stay tuned, I am piecing together a beautiful gift for the baby and will get back to farm news soon!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow Day!!!

Yesterday was a snow day! It just snowed and snowed all day, making it a laid back and lazy day. No where to go and not much to do except getting out to tend the animals. Autumn always accompanies me to put the alpacas and goats away for the evening.
They were fine with the storm, after all it's their weather! Everyone was beded down with a thick layer of straw as we enjoyed our snow day by raiding the refrigerator, kicking back on the couch and enjoying the day as the snow fell!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Staple length is everything!

This weekend I was grooming my Angora rabbits and as I was plucking some of the under coat from "Tawny", it was coming out at over 6 inches! She is one of my best wool producers! Even at over tow years old, producing a litter, she still grows out the most amazing and thick coat. This will spin up nicely into some gorgeous yarns!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Winter bee feeding with new theories!

The unusually warm winter here in Connecticut has enabled me to procrastinate in feeding the honeybees. Winter is beginning to set in so today I got to it! I pulled out the candy boards and got to work...
I scooped out just enough for 15 pounds of sugar to make three candy boards.

Then added 48 ounces of water to the big pot and brought it to a boil.

This year I tacked this flexible card board material to the board to allow the "candy" to cling to it.

Once the sugar and water came to the sugar stage after much beating, I poured it into the boards and took them outside to quickly cool.

My friend Kisha and I have talked a lot about how to better winterize the bees and reduced moisture in the hive. We saw a man selling a system and he used pine shavings to help collect the moisture.

We are both going about our theories in different ways. Mine is keeping my feeders on top of the hive, filling the feeders with shavings...

then inverting the candy board on top of that. My theory hopes the bees go up between the feeder, eat the "candy" and stay free of moisture. I allowed a couple of venting spaces and am hoping for the best. As I was installing this I discovered that my weaker hive had already died so fingers crossed for the two plus Kisha's hive that we hope to bring through winter!

So, tops are on, secured with heavy rocks, vented and fingers crossed until Spring, rest well girls!